HC Deb 26 March 1998 vol 309 cc235-6W
Mr. Hoyle

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if his Department's review of military training assistance has been completed. [36496]

Mr. Tony Lloyd

The review of the FCO's UK Military Training Assistance Scheme (UKMTAS) was launched as part of our Comprehensive Spending Review. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary concluded that for 1998–99, UKMTAS will be replaced by a new programme called Assistance to Support Stability with In-Service Training (ASSIST), and that we will set up a specific Human Rights Project Fund.

The ASSIST programme will be worth £11.15 million in 1998–99. The criteria will be:

  1. 1) To promote, within overseas military and police forces, respect for civilian democratic government and practices, the rule of law and international human rights standards. This should be done by training activities which:
    • promote human rights both as a distinct discipline and as an element of broader training courses;
    • deliver practical skills for peacekeeping, conflict prevention, dispute resolution and disaster management;
    • help fight crime, including terrorism;
    • enhance the professionalism of the armed forces.
  2. 2) To promote effective arms control and non-proliferation measures.
  3. 3) To promote English Language training, as preparation for other training, and as a tool to allow contributions to peacekeeping and other activities where English is the common language.

The creation of the new Human Rights Project Fund is the first time the FCO has set aside dedicated funds for human rights.

The new fund will enable our Embassies and High Commissions to give practical help to promote human rights through Governments and non-governmental organisations.

Priority areas will include: children's rights, including work to tackle child sexual abuse; rule of law cooperation, eg training for judges and lawyers, prison reform; support for national human rights institutions and NGOs; media, eg training of journalists.

The Fund is made up of £2.25 million from overseas military training budgets (UKMTAS), together with an additional £2.75 million available through savings elsewhere.

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